A sellout crowd of 8,149 came out to ONEOK Field on Friday night to get an early preview of the star power that will be on display at this year's Texas League All-Star Game. The Drillers and the Springfield Cardinals boast a combined 14 players that have been honored as Texas League All-Stars and will look to put on a show in Tulsa on Thursday, June 28. The large crowd got an indication of what to expect from the stars on both teams as the Drillers posted an 8-4 victory in a back-and-forth contest.
The show got started a bit early as Springfield scored a pair of runs in the top of the second inning off of All-Star Nick Schmidt. A leadoff double by Jake Shaffer was followed up by Xavier Scruggs being hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with nobody out. All-Star catcher Audry Perez doubled to centerfield to put the Cards up 1-0. After Jose Garcia popped out to first baseman Ben Paulsen, Springfield pitcher Seth Maness laid down a bunt that was fielded by Nolan Arenado who had nobody to throw to at first base. The bunt single brought in Scruggs to make the score 2-0 in favor of Springfield.
Tulsa responded in the bottom of the third when Warren Schaeffer doubled to lead off the inning. After Schmidt was retired for the Drillers first out, All-Star starter Josh Rutledge singled to bring in Schaeffer and put Tulsa on the board. Back-to-back singles by Mike Mitchell and Arenado led to Rutledge scoring to tie the game at 2.
The Tulsa shortstop struck again in the bottom of the fifth to break the tie. After Angelys Nina hit a pinch-hit double,Rutledge, the Drillers hits leader, smacked his second double of the night to put Tulsa ahead 3-2. The Drillers extended their lead to 4-2 in the following inning when Kent Matthes doubled and came in to score on a Schaeffer single.
Reliever Mike Marbry cruised through his first inning after he spelled Schmidt but witnessed first-hand the talent of Springfield's All-Stars as he gave up a towering homerun to Oscar Taveras to begin the 7th inning. Another homer by Chris Swauger tied the game at 4 before Marbry was able to retire two Cardinal hitters. Zach Simons came in the game to record the final out of the inning when he enticed a fly out by Adam Melker.
The Drillers fought back in the bottom of the inning to break the tie and take the lead for good. Arenado walked to lead off the inning and was driven home by a Corey Dickerson blast that nearly cleared the right field berm. The homer was Dickerson'sthird of the season with the Drillers since being called up from Single A Modesto.
The scoring was capped off in the bottom of the eighth when Kiel Roling hit a 2-run homer of his own to give Tulsa a couple ofinsurance runs. The round tripper scored Schaeffer who reached base with his second double of the night to lead off the inning.
All-Star Coty Woods came in to close out the ballgame and recorded his 14th save of the season. Simons earned the win,improving his record to 3-1, while Justin Wright was charged with the loss for Springfield.
The two teams will play game two of their four-game set on Saturday night at ONEOK Field with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05PM. Joe Gardner (3-3, 4.68 ERA) will start for Tulsa and matchup against Trevor Rosenthal (5-6, 3.04 ERA) of Springfield.
NOTES: Schaeffer extended his hitting streak to 6 games and raised his season average to .222...Rutledge had 4 hits to bring his season total to a Texas League leading 91...Woods tied Keith Butler for the Texas League lead in saves at 14